Self-Guided Walking Tours & Biking Tours


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Best of the West Highland Way Self-Guided Hiking Trip
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Highlights

  • Experience Scotland’s rich culture while walking the highlights of it’s most famous long distance trail
  • Immerse yourself in nature—wander the “bonnie banks” of Loch Lomond
  • Enjoy stays in the best accommodations along the trail
  • Sample a dram or two on a tour of Glengoyne’s pretty countryside distillery
  • Begin in the eclectic city of Glasgow and finish at the base of Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis!

Walk the highlights of the West Highland Way—Scotland’s most famous long distance trail. Hike the route as it winds its way north through verdant lowlands, traces the “bonnie banks” of Loch Lomond, and follows deep glens steeped in turbulent clan history. Nowadays, you’ll find the West Highland Way brimming with welcoming Highland hotels and like-minded walkers reveling in the vastness of this stunning landscape.

At Macs the West Highland Way is not only our best-selling trip but our favourite, and with over 800 authentic, unbiased guest reviews on our website don’t just take our word for it! Leave the bustling heart of Glasgow, home to Macs HQ, behind for the secluded forest trails and purple heather-clad mountainsides that will accompany you on the journey north to Fort William. En route experience unstinting hospitality in accommodations that we know and love while immersing yourself in the unique Scottish landscape.



Day 1 - Arrive Glasgow and overnight

Arrive in the midst of Glasgow’s eclectic city centre, if you can, we recommend allowing time in your schedule for sightseeing and making the most of the vibrant foodie scene. Stroll around the city’s West End, where you can marvel at the impressive sandstone architecture of the University of Glasgow, founded in 1796, and nearby Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.


Settle into your welcoming and hand-selected hotel, located in the city centre. 


Overnight: Glasgow


Day 2 - Glengoyne Distillery tour and walk from Balmaha to Rowardennan


After a private transfer (35 mins) begin your Scottish adventure with a visit to Glengoyne Distillery, said to be Scotland’s most beautiful distillery, nestled on the edge of the hills. Enjoy a whisky tour and tasting lead by one of the distillery’s experts. After sampling a dram you’ll be whisked off to the village of Balmaha via a short transfer (20 mins) to start the day’s hike. Venture north to Rowardennan following the thistle signposts on trails through the forest lining the shores of Loch Lomond.


The secluded Rowardennan Hotel—the only accommodation here on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond—is your home for the night. Relax and enjoy your evening in this simple Highland hotel that has been hosting West Highland Way walkers for decades. 


Walk: 7.5 miles / 12 km


Overnight: Rowardennan


Day 3 - Walk to Inverarnan and transfer to Bridge of Orchy


Follow the Way through woodlands rich in birdlife and take in views from the top of Conic Hill over Loch Lomond peppered with tiny forested islands. Make your way to the village of Inverarnan and the renowned Drovers Inn—this characterful inn was established in 1705 and has been housing weary travelers since! Why not pop for a pint of local ale in one of Scotland’s oldest licensed establishments as you await your private transfer (25 mins)? The drive to Bridge of Orchy brings you out of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and into still more mountainous and remote scenery.


Situated directly on the Way the Bridge of Orchy Hotel is the hub of this tiny Highland hamlet—the hotel’s remote position belies it’s lively interior! This evening eat a delicious dinner made with seasonal produce, and afterwards settle down in the bar to share stories with fellow walkers from around the world, or simply retire to your room for a relaxing evening.


 Walk: 13.5 miles / 21.5 km


Overnight: Bridge of Orchy


Day 4 - Walk to Kingshouse

Today you’ll hike one of our favourite sections of the route—immerse yourself in some of the most spectacular and remote terrain on the trail. Pass Loch Tulla, surrounded by towering Munros (Scottish mountains over 3000ft / 918m) before traversing the vast expanse of the Rannoch Moor. As you near Kingshouse the beguiling pyramidal peak of Scotland’s most photographed mountain, Buachaille Etive Mor, meaning “the herdsman of Etive”, comes into view situated at the head of Glen Etive (of “Skyfall” Bond film fame).


The recently renovated Kingshouse Hotel stands proudly on the Rannoch Moor, prepare for a warm welcome, not only from the hotel’s friendly staff but from the resident herd of red deer! Tonight sample local cuisine such as fresh seafood from nearby Loch Leven in the hotel’s restaurant. Although, with floor-to-ceiling windows affording the unrivaled views up Glencoe and onto the Buachaille you may find your focus drifts from your meal. 


Walk: 12.5 miles / 20 km


Overnight: Kingshouse


Day 5 - Walk to Kinlochleven and transfer to Glencoe


Stride out across the Rannoch Moor once more and pass the base of the Buachaille—gaze up at it’s rocky flanks to see if you can spot any adventure-seeking climbers on the rock face. Now tackle the “Devil’s Staircase”, don’t worry though, with it’s steady ascent the name is more intimidating than the reality and the views from the top are certainly worth it! Hike across rolling terrain before descending on forest paths into the village of Kinlochleven to meet your private transfer (15 mins) to Glencoe village. 


Glencoe is synonymous with Scotland, and the village at the end of the glen of the same name occupies an envious position on the rugged shores of Loch Leven. Surrounded by captivating rocky peaks it’s not hard to see how the tough lifestyle of the clans of old is easily romanticised. Here there are multiple great accommodation options, and for your evening meal you can choose from a variety of eateries.


Walk: 8.5 miles / 13.5 km


Overnight: Glencoe


Day 6 - Transfer to Kinlochleven and walk to Fort William


After being dropped off in Kinlochleven, at the head of Loch Leven, begin today’s walk to Fort William. Savour each step on this final day of hiking as you walk through dramatic forested glens. Soak in your surrounds as you skirt the base of Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain (4413ft / 1345m).


Located at the head of Loch Linnhe, Fort William was originally settled in 1654 as a fort where English troops were based to keep the Jacobite skirmishes, once common in the region, at bay. The Old Fort eventually gave it’s name to the town, but the fort itself is now easily missed so keep an eye out for it’s ruined walls between the loch and the train station. The official end point of the West Highland Way is marked by a statue of a weary walker resting his feet as he looks out onto the loch.



Stroll along the nearby main street of “Scotland’s outdoor capital” lined with cafes, restaurants and shops selling souvenirs before heading to your accommodation. We have worked with our accommodations in Fort William for many years so you can be assured of a warm welcome and congratulations on finishing the West Highland Way. Tonight there are plenty of options for a celebratory dinner in the town centre—you deserve it!


Walk: 15 miles / 24 km


Overnight: Fort William


Day 7 - Onward travel


After breakfast your trip on the West Highland Way has come to an end. From Fort William we recommend you take the West Highland Line rail journey (3 hr 45 mins) back to Glasgow on one of the country’s most scenic train rides. Alternatively, speak to the team about your needs to get a quote for private airport transfers to Glasgow (2hr 15 mins) or Edinburgh (2hr 45 mins) airports. 

Accommodation

Due to the remote locations of many accommodations along the trail and the popularity of the route we recommend booking well in advance and letting your specialist know about your flexibility with dates when you book, this will allow us the best possible chance of confirming your adventure in the accommodations listed.


One of the highlights of this tour is the welcome you will receive from the accommodations along the trail, most of whom we have worked closely with for many years and know well. Due to the nature of the trail, being really remote in some areas, the standard of accommodation varies from simple, cosy country inns and guest houses to 4* Highland retreats. We have specifically chosen the hotels to ensure that you have a memorable, comfortable and relaxing stay.


Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

We will be happy to accommodate your party with single rooms if requested, and a single supplement applies. This trip is also available to solo walkers, and a supplement is again payable (as some costs are not shared). Please note that singles may not be of the same standard as twins/doubles.


Meals

A hearty cooked breakfast is served each morning. These are typically served buffet-style and range from eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, cheese, yogurt and coffee/tea with traditional Scottish favourites such as black pudding. We don’t include dinner so you are free to choose from the available options. Some of your accommodations will be able to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively, you can buy a packed lunch at local shops or stop in a café if available.


Most of your accommodations will be able to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively, you can buy lunch at local shops or stop in a café if available.


Accommodations

We regularly use the following properties but may accommodate you elsewhere if these are not available. Why not add an extra night in Fort William after your trip, or in Glencoe to make the most of your time in this beautiful place? Ask your Destination and Adventure Specialist for details.



 

 

 




Abode Hotel

This modern townhouse hotel with great amenities is located in the city centre. We know the Abode well and have worked with them for years—their lovely staff are eager to welcome you to Scotland and get your adventure off to an excellent start.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Rowardennan Hotel

Located on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond surrounded by tranquil forests, the Way passes the door of the hotel. A simple country hotel offering a warm welcome to walkers and typical hearty Highland fare in the relaxed atmosphere of their bar and restaurant.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Bridge of Orchy Hotel

In the tiny hamlet of Bridge of Orchy the hotel, of the same name, is the centre of the local community and a popular stop along the West Highland Way for many walkers. Enjoy a touch of class and choose from delicious dinner options that showcase the local cuisine. And after, why not relax by the fire with a well-earned dram?


 

 

 


 

 

 




Kingshouse Hotel

This historic Highland hotel has housed West Highland Way hikers for decades, and has been newly refurbished so it does justice to it’s spectacular location on the Rannoch Moor . Slip off your boots and delight in views of the surrounding mountains from the floor-to-ceiling windows of the bar and restaurant.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Clachaig Inn

In a secluded location outside of Glencoe village the Clachaig is renowned among mountaineers as a warm, welcoming refuge from Scotland’s harsh winter weather. The inn has a variety of room types, restaurant, and climbers bar with live music at the weekend.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Isles of Glencoe Hotel

Located in Glencoe village the hotel has loch-view rooms and free access to their pool and sauna. There are plenty of restaurant options within walking distance.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Lime Tree Hotel

With it’s attached art gallery the 19th century Lime Tree Hotel provides a unique overnight near the centre of Fort William. We recommend dining here in their characterful Michelin Guide listed restaurant before retiring to your individually designed bedroom to ponder a week well spent.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Crolinnhe Guest House

Expect a warm welcome and perhaps a spot of afternoon tea with Sophie, the owner of this lovely 5 star B&B, on arrival in Fort William. With 3 sumptuously decorated suites and wonderful views over Loch Linnhe the house is just a short walk from the town centre.


 

 

 


Luggage Transfers


Your luggage will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 40lbs / 18kg per person.


Grade & Terrain


We have created this itinerary to showcase the best walks and to create the perfect balance of hiking and sightseeing. While the walks are less challenging than if you were to walk the entire West Highland Way, they offer you the chance to take in the highlights of the route on a more relaxed itinerary.


This itinerary is rated moderate. The underfoot terrain includes forest tracks, narrow rocky paths, wide gravel tracks and short sections on back country roads. The trail is undulating and the longest day’s hike is the walk from Kinlochleven to Fort William (15 miles / 24 km with 1650 ft/500 m ascent and 1670 ft/510 m descent). The other day’s elevation gains are anywhere between 500 ft/150 m and 1115 ft/340 m over distances of 7.5—15 miles / 12—24 km.


Navigation



This route is well way-marked therefore navigation is quite straightforward. On this tour you can find your way using the Macs Adventure smartphone app. Simply download the GPX tracks for offline use and follow the route with your phone with the assurance that you will not get lost.


Personal Equipment


Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as comfortable worn-in walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care. 


Travel insurance helps protect your travel investment, your belongings and most importantly you, from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip. 

Getting to Glasgow

The trip begins at your accommodation in Glasgow—easily accessible from the UK via rail and motorway links. If you’re travelling from Europe, North America or further afield we recommend flying into Glasgow Airport just a short taxi journey from the city centre (20 mins).


The airport has plenty of UK and European links. There are also direct flights available from New York, Orlando, Toronto and Halifax.  Otherwise, you can easily connect from other North American airports via Iceland, London or Amsterdam using British Airways, KLM, or a multitude of low budget airlines such as Ryanair or Easyjet.  


Returning from Fort William

From Fort William we recommend you take the West Highland Line rail journey (3 hr 45 mins) back to Glasgow—one of the country’s most scenic train rides. Alternatively, speak to the team about your needs to receive a quote for private airport transfers to Glasgow (2hr 15 mins) or Edinburgh (2hr 45 mins) airports for your onward travel connections. 

Included

  • 6 Nights in hand-picked accommodations
  • 6 Breakfasts
  • Luggage transfers
  • Transfers to walks as listed in the itinerary
  • Information Pack, GPX tracks and access to the Macs Adventure smartphone app
  • Glengoyne Distillery group tour & tasting
  • 24/7 telephone support from our UK office

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to and from Glasgow / Fort William
  • Lunches and dinners
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage
  • Personal equipment

Extras

  • Additional nights before, during or after the walk
  • Single room and solo traveler supplement
  • Transfers to Glasgow or Edinburgh airports

Planning a trip on the West Highland Way can be daunting, especially if this is your first long distance walking tour. We are often asked the following questions and we hope that you will find the answers useful.

How fit do I need to be?

Covering 65 out of the 96 mile long West Highland Way the trip involves walking daly distance from 7.5 - 15 miles so it the higher your level of fitness the more you will enjoy the experience. If you currently don’t enjoy that level of fitness regular walking in hilly terrain supplemented by cardiovascular exercise for 6 months prior to your walk is recommended. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.

How do the luggage transfers work?

Your luggage will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 40lbs / 18kg per person.

How far in advance do I need to book? 

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the West Highland Way is very popular especially in May and July/August. However, we will always do our best to accommodate your dates.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. Our information pack has a list of all equipment you will need, along with some helpful suggestions.

When is the best time of year?

Traditionally May has always been the most popular time of year because, the theory goes, that the weather is better and the midges have not yet appeared. Although having walked the way in every summer month we believe any time between April and October offers a wonderful experience.

What are the midges like? 

Midges are small biting insects (much like North American gnats) that are prevalent in the summer months. They are particularly bad on still, overcast days but do not bother you if you are moving, the wind is blowing, sun is shining, it’s raining, or you are inside. We recommend carrying insect repellent, and bite cream, for the odd occasion you may need it, this way they shouldn’t have any impact on your experience.

Am I able to take my dog? 

Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets and several sections of the way are closed, or restricted, for dogs as they are permissive paths through farmland.

What happens if I can't walk a stage? 

You can use public transport or local taxis to reach your next overnight stop. Full details are included in your info pack or you can call us for assistance in making arrangements.

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